Picking the Stars

By Josh Eberley #41

The All-Star game is rapidly approaching, only, this year there will be a few spicy twists.

Keeping with the changes made last year; the 10 All-Star starters, 5 from either conference will be selected by a combination of the fan vote (50 percent), a current players ballot (25 percent), and media input (25 percent). From there, the two players with the most votes (one from each conference) will be elected as captains and will draft a squad from the pool of remaining All-Star starters and reserves regardless of conference.

Unfortunately, for those hoping to see the draft play out playground style, the league is not planning on televising the All-Star draft. However, stars like LeBron James and John Wall have made comments in support of the fan’s stance. Let’s hope the stars win out.

Aired live or not, the draft could be unpredictable. Assuming James is a captain, does he select players from Klutch Sports first? If Steph Curry is the other captain, does he immediately pickup his fellow Warriors?

You can’t account for the friend factor, this might be the toughest group of All-Stars to predict ever! That said, the staff of HOOP gave their picks for the 2018 All-Star game.

Contributors include: Bryan Crawford, Jammel Cutler, Josh Eberley, Anthony Gilbert, Darryl Howerton and Ming Wong.

Western Conference

Unanimous Selections

James Harden

The early frontrunner for MVP on a Rockets squad that may have a legit chance at a Finals run this year. Don’t take that Finals run lightly in the Bay era.–BC

Kevin Durant

Durant might be more likely to win Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) than he is MVP, which is rather incredible. Durant’s game has transformed, equal parts assassin and rim protector for the Warriors this season.–JE

Steph Curry

Averaging the quietest 28 & 7 you’ve ever seen on a team that hasn’t even lost 10 games, and we’re already in the New Year.—BC

Russell Westbrook

Pretty much averaging a triple-double for the second straight season, only this time he’s doing it playing with Carmelo Anthony and Paul George.–BC

Karl-Anthony Towns

While people focus on individual stats for All-Star, they seldom forget that most of the All-Stars come from winning teams. Towns’ numbers are down across the board this year, but the Timberwolves are finally winning and look poised to break their playoff drought. The reward will be Towns making his first ASG.–MW

DeMarcus Cousins

Cousins is the best big man in The NBA. Like seasons past Cousins once again leads the NBA in many categories on both offense and defense. With the help of his frontcourt mate Anthony Davis, they have The Pelicans in prime position to snag one of the final playoff spots in the West.–JC

Majority nominated

Anthony Davis

Davis has been fantastic. Reminder, he’s only 24 years old! Durability has always been his issue but this year he’s only missed five games. Which is less than younger comparable players like Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, and Kristaps Porzingis.— JE

Damian Lillard

He is too great to snub again. If we must snub someone, let it be Paul George or Klay Thompson for a change. Lillard can be ignored no longer.—DH

Klay Thompson

Thompson just keeps getting hotter from outside. His release is so quick you can miss it if you blink and he more than did his part to keep the Warriors afloat when Curry was out of the lineup.—JE

Jimmy Butler

JB is the rarest of All-Stars who can make the move out West and still get his All-Star passport stamped (sorry, PG-13, Melo and Mr. Millsap).—DH

LaMarcus Aldridge

LA is a team leader and he has elevated his game to anchor the Spurs to their usual place as one of the upper echelon teams in the league.—AG

Nikola Jokic

I have seen great centers (Tim Duncan, Ben Wallace, Dikembe Mutombo) ignite great defenses to great degrees, but I have never seen an offensive catalyst from the post center position quite like Nikola Jokic, whose 24.2 career assist ratio ranks first all-time in the NBA.—DH

Eastern Conference

Unanimous Selections

Kyrie Irving

I talked to Kyrie after the Cavs’ 2016 NBA championship campaign, and he actually told me he never felt he had a great season, from start to finish. Now as I see him play in Boston, I get what he was talking about. Kyrie’s O and D have never been better. He is now becoming the player he always dreamed he could become.—DH

DeMar DeRozan

Often critiqued for is old-school game, DeRozan has made his way in to the modern era shooting a career high 37 percent from deep this season. DeRozan should be applauded for continuing to get better each and every year.–JE

Victor Oladipo

Everyone had written the Pacers off prior to the season, however Oladipo had another plan. He has not only elevated his play, but he has also made his teammates better, and the the team is in the hunt for a playoff berth.–AG

LeBron James

The Cavaliers are 25-13 with Isaiah Thomas only playing a single game. It’d be insane to claim James is having the best season of his career in year 15, but it’s not entirely out of the question! – JE

Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Milwaukee Bucks have been without Jabari Parker all year but have still maintained a slot in the playoffs. Antetokounmpo has gotten better every single year and could emerge as a serious MVP contender should the Bucks rattle off a bunch of wins in the second half of the season.–JE

Bradley Beal

Beal has been the Wizards best player this season, he’s taken notable steps forward as an on-ball scorer and defender. He also carried the Wizards through a tough stretch without Wall.–JE

Majority nominated

John Wall

Wall is one of the best two guards in the League. If it wasn’t for Kyrie Irving he’ll probably be the starter for The East. With his health problems behind him, Wall is playing at an All-Star level that has the Wizards surging into playoff contention in the East. Wall is averaging a career high in points, steals, shooting percentage, and his 10.1 assists are the third best of his career.—JC

Kevin Love

For whatever reason, All-Stars have been based on winning as much as individual seasons. Love is having about the same season as last year (where he was an All-Star) and the Cavs are No. 2 in the East so Love will get in again.—MW

Joel Embiid

The sky is the limit for the one of a kind, 7-foot, do it all. Embiid makes an impact on both ends of the court, and his personality proceeds him via his ubiquitous online presence.—AG

Kristaps Porzingis

As great as KP is on offense, we cannot forget the fact that the 7-3 Pterodactyl also leads bigs in rim defensive field goal percentage.—DH

Andre Drummond

Players are expected to get better each year but few show anywhere near the visible leaps Drummond took this season as both a defender and free throw shooter. The Pistons are in the playoff race in large part thanks to the big man’s dominant campaign.—JE

Al Horford

Horford is not the player fans necessarily want to see at an All-Star Game, but the Celtics have the second-best record in the NBA and will get two reps at the game because of it.–MW

Bryan Crawford Jammel Cutler Josh Eberley Anthony Gilbert Darryl Howerton Ming Wong
EAST Irving Irving Irving James Horford James
DeRozan Oladipo DeRozan Antetokounmpo Antetokounmpo Antetokounmpo
Wall James James Embiid James Irving
Beal Antetokounmpo Antetokounmpo DeRozan DeRozan DeRozan
Oladipo Porzingis Embiid Irving Irving Beal
Antetokounmpo Wall Drummond Love Drummond Wall
James DeRozan Porzingis Tatum Embiid Oladipo
Love Walker Walker Horford Porzingis Porzingis
Simmons Beal Oladipo Beal Love Drummond
Embiid Love Beal Oladipo Beal Horford
Porzingis Gordon Horford Whiteside Oladipo Love
Drummond Embiid Simmons Wall Lowry Lowry
WEST Harden Curry Curry Green Jokic Curry
Durant Harden Harden Durant Davis Durant
Westbrook Westbrook Durant Aldridge Durant Westbrook
Curry Durant Davis Harden Harden Harden
Towns Davis Towns Curry Curry Davis
George Cousins Cousins Cousins Towns Cousins
Davis Thompson Butler Towns Cousins Towns
Cousins Towns Westbrook Nurkic Aldridge Butler
Lillard Mitchell Aldridge Thompson Green Jokic
Thompson George Paul Lillard Butler Aldridge
Butler Lillard Thompson Westbrook Westbrook Thompson
Aldridge Butler Williams Jokic Lillard Lillard